CURZON Ashton were caught cold at the start of each half as they lost at home to Alfreton Town and slipped to seventh place in National League North and out of the promotion play-off places.
In identical circumstances, Bailey Hobson gave Alfreton the lead after only 15 seconds then within half a minute of the restart Antwaine Hackford proved lightning can strike twice as he found the net to double the visitors’ lead.
Curzon, who saw Alfreton leapfrog them into the top seven, will be hoping to eradicate those lapses in readiness for the re-match on Saturday, December 18, again at the Tameside Stadium, in the third round of the Buildbase FA Trophy.
Manager Adam Lakeland made two changes from the last fixture. Nyal Bell, who is returning to Kidderminster Harriers this week following a loan spell, dropped to the bench with Jack McKay replacing him up front and Dale Whitham coming into central midfield with Jordan Lussey making way.
It only took 15 seconds for Alfreton to take the lead. The ball was played down the left to Yusifu Ceesay who got to the by-line pulling it back into the box to find an unmarked Bailey Hobson to slot home past Chris Renshaw.
The first chance for Curzon came in the ninth minute from a corner which found Adam Barton unmarked just outside the six-yard box, but his header was easily collected by George Willis in the Town’s goal.
The next chance fell to Jack Dunn after 16 minutes the ball broke through the Alfreton’s defence for Jack McKay to run onto. He pulled it back for Alex Curran who couldn’t control the ball but Dunn, arriving late, saw his effort hit a defender and go out for a corner.
Alfreton quickly broke, and Ceesay nearly made it 2-0 when he was free on the edge of the box, but blazed over.
Curzon were forced to make a change after 26 minutes with Jordan Lussey replacing the injured Matthew Rain before they quickly launched an attack which saw keeper Willis drop the ball which fell to McKay whose shot was cleared off the line by centre back Dwayne Wiley.
For the last 10 minutes of the half, Curzon were doing all the pressing but were let down by the final ball, though they had a strong shout for a penalty turned down by referee Daniel Locker after Marcus Poscha was pulled to the ground.
After a shaky start, Curzon had grown into the game and created most of the half-chances without getting the rewards. Even in the final seconds of the first half, Dale Whitham had the ball in the net only to see it disallowed for offside.
The start of the second half was a carbon copy of the first half. After only 30 seconds, Alfreton broke down the left side and put in a low cross which found the unmarked Hackford who had the simple task of side footing home to double their lead.
Lakeland made a change after 58 minutes bringing on Craig Hobson to add some height and strength to the front line, but Curzon were still struggling to get any kind of foothold in the game.
Adam Thomas had Curzon’s best chance midway through the second half after McKay found him 12 yards out, but his shot was blocked.
Two minutes later Curzon were awarded a free kick around 25 yards out but the effort from Dunn was easily collected by Willis, Dunn had another chance with a free kick, but he wasted his effort as Willis collected with ease.
However, Curzon pulled a goal back from out of nowhere after a low cross in from the right by McKay found Craig Hobson free at the back post and he tapped the ball home to give Curzon 14 minutes to grab an equaliser and a point.
Curzon, for all their efforts, did not create enough clear-cut chances and at times their passing was poor.
They lost Rain and Whitham through injury and will be hoping they quickly recover and Harry Flowers can return soon enabling Adam Barton to switch into midfield to add some strength and height.
Curzon travel to Hereford on Saturday (Dec 11) and will return to the Tameside Stadium on Tuesday, December 14 when they welcome Kidderminster Harriers.
Report: Dave Jones. Photos: Oli Biddle.